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Dump extension a rubbish idea

Last updated 05:00 29/07/2014
redvale opponents

CONCERNS VOICED: Roger Sorensen, centre with submissions, and other Dairy Flat residents have their say at the Redvale landfill hearing last week.

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Moves to extend the Redvale landfill's lifespan 26 years beyond what many believed was its 2023 expiry date have got up the nose of Dairy Flat residents.

Literally it seems in the case of objectors who attended a three-day commissioners' hearing in Orewa this month and complained about the smell.

Residents Nick de Witte, Roger Sorensen and Andrew Nieuwelaar sum up how most of the 29 submitters feel about Waste Management NZ's application to renew resource consents expiring in August 2023. The company, newly bought by Chinese state-owned Beijing Capital Group from Transpacific Industries Group, wants to extend the nearly 80-hectare commercial rubbish site's life to 2049.

The trio's concerns include a "rotten egg" smell in certain weather conditions, dust in summer, noise from vehicles and gas flare-offs, vibration from machinery and escaping litter.

Many objectors say they are prepared to put up with some nuisance in the expectation of a recreational park being developed there after 2023 but don't want to wait another 26 years.

"There's an opportunity for a garden like Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island in Canada," Niuewelaar says. He says such a project would attract many visitors.

He says he's been assured landfill operations will stop in 2023 and the area kept under custodial care until about 2053. "On this basis we were prepared to put up with the inconvenience and stigma of living next to the dump, knowing we have a finite time frame to look forward to an enhanced amenity."

Nieuwelaar says the smell has become worse during the past two dry summers, although it is variable.

Some complaints have been recorded on a register but many objectors say it isn't always worth calling a council officer out because the smell dissipates quickly.

De Witte says the smell has become frequent during summers and he now keeps an "odour diary". He says warmer temperatures and heavy rain incidents expected to increase under climate change need to be taken into account.

Objectors are also concerned about the application's limited notification. Those around the landfill area were told about the proposal but many feel the wider community should also be notified.

Several property owners say they are prevented from objecting by property encumbrances they signed when buying into the area.

Waste Management representatives say the Redvale landfill is expected to be about 80 per cent full by August 2023. They say better technology and improved waste minimisation, along with competition, is expected to help extend Redvale's life.

Tonkin & Taylor senior resource management planner Andrea Brabant says imposing appropriate conditions will offset the concerns. She says Redvale is the largest landfill in the region, one of only three serving Auckland, and its 20-year operation proves it can be managed responsibly.

Brabant says extending the landfill's life will help cater for ongoing waste disposal needs. Company representatives say the option of trying to gain a new site will take many years and be more expensive.

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The prospect of housing developing around the landfill area was raised by some submitters. But Brabant says until the Auckland Council develops a structure plan or similar to cover Dairy Flat's future urban zone there will be no further intensification.

The hearing commissioners reserved their decision.

REDVALE LANDFILL

Dairy Flat is considered rural but has seen some industrial activity for many years.

The area is mainly rural-residential lifestyle blocks with some horticulture and farming.

Redvale history:

* Early 1920s - Redvale Lime quarrying starts.

* 1988 - Waste Management purchases site and starts taking waste.

* Waste Management says it has been an active member of the community since early days, establishing the Redvale Landfill Community Liaison Committee which meets four times annually and has community representation.

* July 1993 - Dairy Flat Community Trust formed to help benefit the community. It has provided grants to sports and social clubs, helped with school and kindergarten improvements, given funds to community groups, provided individual education grants and helped with parks and road maintenance.

Waste Management says it will continue to support the trust throughout the landfill's operating life.

* Redvale is one of the first privately owned and run municipal solid waste landfills in New Zealand. The site caters for non-hazardous, household, commercial and industrial solid wastes, including some non-hazardous special wastes, open six days a week.

Waste comes from bulk haul refuse trucks and commercial customers. It is not open to the general public for waste disposal.

- Rodney Times

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